MTI CEO goes AWOL, lawyers pull out

Written by Ciaran Ryan. Posted in Journalism

It’s not looking good for the 280 000 members planning on harvesting profits before Christmas. From Moneyweb.

Where is MTI founder and CEO Johann Steynberg? Image: Shutterstock
Where is MTI founder and CEO Johann Steynberg? Image: Shutterstock

Where’s Johann? Panama, Brazil, South America? Speculation is running rife as to the whereabouts of bitcoin trading group Mirror Trading International (MTI) founder and CEO Johann Steynberg who apparently left the country on December 3, 2020 and hasn’t been seen since.

According to a statement released by MTI management on December 19, he remained in contact with them until about a week ago and then seemingly went off the grid and has since been uncontactable.

Several months ago, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) issued a warning to the public to steer clear of MTI, which promised returns of up to 10% a month using a computerised trading algorithm which was claimed to have lost only one day out of 200.

FSCA investigating Mirror Trading International (Aug 19)
Joining MTI may end in tears (Aug 20)
Get-rich-quick scheme pulls a crowd, despite regulators calling time-out (Aug 28)
Anonymous data dump ‘spills the beans’ on Mirror Trading International (Sep 21)
MTI plans countersuit after FSCA raid on offices and homes of execs (Oct 28)

To participate in the scheme, members had to buy bitcoin and ship it to a wallet apparently controlled by Steynberg.

Despite the adverse publicity, MTI’s membership seems to have grown. Last week MTI marketing executive Cheri Marks told Moneyweb the company had 280 000 members. In October, the number of bitcoin reportedly under MTI control was 17 000, which would have a current value of about R5.6 billion.

On Monday, MTI’s legal representative Ulrich Roux & Associates withdrew as attorneys of record for the group. In a letter outlining the reasons for the withdrawal, the law firm states: “It has recently come to our attention that the CEO of Mirror Trading International, Mr Johann Steynberg, is no longer in South Africa, and that the remaining members of the MTI management team have no way of contacting Steynberg. In addition to this, we have been informed that MTI members are not receiving their withdrawals, as they have in the past.”

The letter goes on to say that Ulrich Roux & Associates has been in contact with the FSCA “and will continue to provide assistance and cooperation to the FSCA pertaining to their ongoing investigation into MTI, subject to the parameters of legally privileged information.”

Ciaran Ryan

The Writer's Room is a curated by Ciaran Ryan, who has written on South African affairs for Sunday Times, Mail & Guardian, Financial Mail, Finweek, Noseweek, The Daily Telegraph, Forbes, USA Today, Acts Online and, among others. In between he manages a gold mining operation in Ghana, and previously worked in Congo. Most of his time is spent in the lovely city of Joburg.